SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The 1970s is recalled by many as an awesome decade. Elvis was still king. The Beatles broke up. Disco was born and the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" was queen. It's also when Spotswood High School first opened its doors. In September of 1976, music students began the school year playing a brand new xylophone and vibraphone. Those two percussion instruments were finally retired this month after 40 years of service thanks to a fundraising campaign by the Spotswood High School Band Parents Association.
At the start of the last school year, the SBPA began their quest to replace several percussion pieces that had outlived their life expectancy. Their first step was a Go Fund Me page to assist the school with the purchase of a xylophone, vibraphone, timpani, chimes and orchestra bells. They also organized a benefit concert by the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble. The original January Salute to Sinatra had to be postponed due to an unexpected blizzard. However, the show went on without a hitch in the spring, raising more than $1,000 toward the cause.
The performance, which marked Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday, also included Spotswood School District music educators, Sarah Carino-Koza, Christina Restine and Michael Bartlett, along with 10 members of the Spotswood High School Wind Ensemble.
Thanks to the two fundraisers, Spotswood High School's band director, Carino-Koza was able to unpack two new percussion instruments for the start of the 2016-17 school year. The veteran music teacher spent some time prior to the opening of school on September 6 putting together the new xylophone and vibraphone.
Of course, there are still the aging timpani and chimes to replace, which is why the SBPA already has a benefit concert in the works. The Central Jersey Wind Ensemble will be performing a holiday concert on Saturday, December 10 with all of the proceeds going towards their purchase.
Milltown native, Nicholas Santoro founded the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble in 1993. The longtime music educator conducts the ensemble, which is made up of musicians throughout New Jersey. Many of the musicians are music educators while other hold professional careers in other areas or are retired. All share a lifelong love of music and will be returning to the Spotswood High School Cafetorium in December to help complete the quest for new percussion instruments.
Additional details about the December 10 holiday benefit concert will be forthcoming as the event nears.